Kobe Bryant will be sidelined six to nine months because of a torn left Achilles’ tendon, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti said Saturday afternoon.
Bryant could possibly be back in time for the start of next season, Vitti said. The NBA will not release the 2013-14 schedule until August but teams typically begin playing around Oct. 31.
Bryant was about to undergo surgery at an undisclosed location when Vitti met with reporters a little after noon Saturday at the team’s training facility. The tear was a complete rupture, Vitti said.
Bryant will be immobilized about a month after surgery before beginning rehabilitation.
He was injured while driving to the basket with 3:08 left in the Lakers’ 118-116 victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors. He stayed in the game after a timeout, made two free throws because he was fouled on the play, and headed to the locker room.
“When something like this happens, everybody wants to know why, and there’s not always a reason why,” Vitti said. “Some of it’s just bad luck.”
Braynt was in the process of playing eight consecutive quarters without resting. He averaged 45.6 minutes in his last seven games.
Vitti agreed that every minute on the court could lead to an increased chance of injury. However, he shot down speculation that Bryant was injured because of an increasingly heavy workload.
“To say that he was injured because he played 48 minutes a game the last however-many games I think is a stretch,” said Vitti, in his 29th season with the Lakers. “Lots of guys rupture their Achilles’ tendons and don’t play 48 minutes. To make that correlation I don’t think is fair.”
The Lakers (43-37) have two regular-season games left and lead Utah by one game for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Lakers play both games at home: Sunday against San Antonio and Wednesday against Houston. Utah is on the road at Minnesota and Memphis.
Bryant’s is the latest in a string of injuries that blanketed the Lakers this season. Pau Gasol missed 33 games because of a variety of ailments. Steve Nash has missed 30 games primarily because of a fracture in his leg, though he remains sidelined by a strained hamstring. Steve Blake missed 37 games because of abdominal and groin injuries. Jordan Hill hasn’t played since January after undergoing hip surgery. Dwight Howard looked slow when returning from off-season back surgery and also missed a handful of games because of a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Metta World Peace missed six games after having torn cartilage repaired in his left knee.
“If you look at our season, it’s been a nightmare,” Vitti said.